Vectors

Vectors are organisms that transmit infections from one host to another.   Your St Clair County Health Department monitors certain vectors, and provides training and information to agencies and citizens to prevent the spread of vector-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease.

Name: Vector Control Program

Program or Service Description:
The Vector Control Program focuses on education and surveillance of mosquitoes and ticks. Areas of St. Clair County located within the 18 townships under the jurisdiction of the St. Clair County Health Department are surveyed on an annual basis. With the occurrence of West Nile virus, surveillance and public education are conducted each season. Mosquitoes are collected, identified and tested for West Nile virus. Brochures are handed out to communities on the importance of minimizing mosquito breeding areas. Educational information is available for all residents on how to reduce breeding sites and personal protective measures. Public complaints are investigated and corrective action enforced based upon validity. Tick collections are also conducted annually, to identify the presence of deer ticks in an effort to prevent Lyme disease.

What are the goals of the program?
The Vector Control Program focuses on protecting the public health through education and surveillance of mosquitoes and ticks.

Who is this program/service for?
Residents of St. Clair County located within the 18 townships under the jurisdiction of the St. Clair County Health Department.

Who is eligible for this program/service?
Residents of St. Clair County located within the 18 townships under the jurisdiction of the St. Clair County Health Department.

Bats in Illinois

There are 13 bat species commonly found in Illinois, but the big brown bat, little brown bat, eastern red bat, and silver-haired bat are the most commonly encountered species by people.

All Illinois bats are protected under the Wildlife Code (520 ILCS 5/1.1). Bats may not be shot, trapped, transported, or held in confinement except when a bat is found in an area where they may have contact with humans or domestic pets.

For information of Bats and Bat Exclusion

http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/structural-pest-control/bats-exclusion​

While pathogens have been found in bed bugs, the bed bug apparently does not transmit diseases to humans.

For more information on bed bugs click on this link:  http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/structural-pest-control/bed-bugs

Why collect dead birds for West Nile virus surveillance?

Collecting and testing dead birds is an important component of the West Nile virus surveillance program. West Nile virus generally appears in birds and mosquitoes before it is transmitted to humans; therefore, monitoring bird populations helps predict when and where humans will be at risk for West Nile virus infections as well as where and when additional precautions and control measures should be taken.

What is an “eligible” bird?

“Eligible” birds are those that have been dead for less than 48 hours (have not started decomposing, no strong odor, no bloating, no maggots, eyes are not deflated or dried, etc.), have not been damaged by scavengers, and have no obvious cause of death. They must also be in one of the following categories:

  • 1st Priority: crows and blue jays
  • 2nd Priority: house finches, house sparrows, and robins
  • Other Eligible Perching Birds: blackbirds, bluebirds, catbirds, cardinals, chickadees, cowbirds, creepers, goldfinches, grackles, finches, flycatchers, larks, mockingbirds, nuthatches, orioles, purple martins, sparrows (many species), starlings, swallows, tanagers, thrushes, warblers (many species), cedar waxwings, and wrens.
  • Hawks and owls may also be submitted without prior approval from IDPH.
  • Do Not Submit: waterfowl, gulls, vultures, turkeys, chickens, or eagles.

Report any eligible birds found on your property between the dates of May 1st to October 15th

Environmental Health Division  618-233-7769

http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/west-nile-virus/dead-bird-collection

The best way to prevent West Nile encephalitis and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes and Diseases

http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/structural-pest-control/mosquitoes-disease

Mosquito preventions:

https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/ncezid/dvbd/about/prevent-bites.html

Mosquito Prevention around your home

Protect yourself and family from mosquitoes

Although ticks are commonly thought of as insects, they are actually arachnids like scorpions, spiders and mites. All members of this group have four pairs of legs as adults and have no antennae. Adult insects have three pairs of legs and one pair of  antennae. Ticks are among the most efficient carriers of disease because they attach firmly when sucking blood, feed slowly and may go unnoticed for a considerable time while feeding. Ticks take several days to complete feeding.

Ticks have four life stages: egg, six-legged larva, eight-legged nymph and adult. After the egg hatches, the tiny larva (sometimes called a “seed tick”) feeds on an appropriate host. The larva then develops (molts) into the larger nymph. The nymph feeds on a host and then molts into an even larger adult. Both male and female adults find and feed on a host, then the females lay eggs sometime after feeding.

Ticks wait for host animals from the tips of grasses and shrubs (not from trees). When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Ticks can only crawl; they cannot fly or jump. Ticks found on the scalp have usually crawled there from lower parts of the body. Some species of ticks will crawl several feet toward a host. Ticks can be active on winter days when the ground temperatures are about 45o Fahrenheit.

There are two groups of ticks, sometimes called the “hard” ticks and “soft” ticks. Hard ticks, like the common dog tick, have a hard shield just behind the mouthparts (sometimes incorrectly called the “head”); unfed hard ticks are shaped like a flat seed. Soft ticks do not have the hard shield and they are shaped like a large raisin. Soft ticks prefer to feed on birds or bats and are seldom encountered unless these animals are nesting or roosting in an occupied building.

Although at least 15 species of ticks occur in Illinois, only a few of these ticks are likely to be encountered by people: American dog tick, lone star tick, blacklegged (deer) tick, brown dog tick and winter tick.

The Adult Female, Adult Male, Nymph and Larva of ticks most likely to be found on people in Illinois

Links

http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/structural-pest-control/common-ticks

Your St. Clair County Health Department participates in the I-tick program. For more information on the I-tick program:

https://vetmed.illinois.edu/i-tick-program-tickborne-disease-illinois/​

What is The Tick App about? 

In few words, Lyme (and other tick-borne) disease prevention and citizen science. The Tick App is a smartphone application (or web app for computer) that shows you how you can avoid ticks and also invites you to share information with scientists about your tick exposure and what kinds of locations and activities are associated with them. In addition, you can submit photos of ticks for timely species identification by an expert. The goal is to develop better strategies to prevent tick bites and tick-borne diseases. 

The Tick App began in response to public health concerns about Lyme Disease, and the blacklegged tick which can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme Disease.  However, the Tick App provides data on several other common tick species that can carry disease. So, the data will increase our knowledge of all tick-borne diseases, not just Lyme.  

How can I get the app?

You can download The Tick App https://thetickapp.org/

If you don’t have a smartphone, or would like to participate on your desktop computer, you can fill out the same questionnaires here https://thetickapp.org/web-app/

Please note: This is a research study. Thus, you will need to provide consent to the research and complete an entry survey (which takes 5 -10 minutes). You will then receive a weekly to monthly message to start your `daily log`. The daily log should take about a minute to complete. It asks if you or a household member encountered a tick, what you did that day and how COVID influenced your outdoor activities. When you start the daily log, you will receive a daily reminder until you complete 15 logs. In addition, you will have the option to complete `tick reports`, to log your tick encounters and when you submit a picture, we will respond to you by email what tick we think it is. Lastly, if you allow location services, the app will use your location to provide you with current information on blacklegged `tick activity` in your area.  Furthermore, location services will help researchers understand how time spent in different areas is associated with tick exposure.

West Nile virus emerged in the United States in the New York metropolitan area in the fall of 1999. Since then, the virus, which can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, has quickly spread across the country.

In Illinois, West Nile virus was first identified in September 2001 when laboratory tests confirmed its presence in two dead crows found in the Chicago area. The following year, the state's first human cases and deaths from West Nile disease were recorded and all but two of the state's 102 counties eventually reported a positive human, bird, mosquito or horse. By the end of 2002, Illinois had counted more human cases (884) and deaths (64) than any other state in the United States.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) maintains a sophisticated disease surveillance system to monitor animals and insects that can potentially carry the virus: dead crows, robins, blue jays, mosquitoes and horses. Mosquitoes can either carry the virus or get it by feeding on infected birds. The surveillance system also includes infectious disease physicians, hospital laboratory directors and infection control practitioners, local health departments and staff from IDPH's laboratory, environmental health and infectious diseases divisions who test for and report suspect or confirmed cases of various diseases that can be caused by mosquito-borne viruses.

Mild cases of West Nile infections may cause a slight fever or headache. More severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high fever with head and body aches, disorientation, tremors, convulsions and, in the most severe cases, paralysis or death. Usually symptoms occur from three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Persons at the highest risk for serious illness are those 60 years of age or older.

For more information on West Nile:

http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/west-nile-virus

https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html